On Saturday, April 8th, the Art Division library transformed into a social hub for the highly anticipated Mocktail Mixer. The event, which started at 4:30 pm, was open to all community members and promised "the freshest mocktails in town." Flyers scattered across the library and paint studio invited attendees to indulge in delicious beverages and engage in thought-provoking discussions about art and life in Los Angeles.
The Mocktail Mixer was an opportunity for Art Division students and staff to connect and unwind. Award-winning mixologist Ellie Herman, who by day serves as Art Division’s College and Career Coach, served as the mastermind behind the bar, creating bespoke, house-made specialties. The drink menu featured a creamy virgin pina colada and a sparkling hibiscus gem, both of which were a hit among the guests, causing Ellie to claim that she had won several more awards. Art Division student Luxe played a vital role in the success of the event, acting as the official taster and significantly improving the taste of the pina colada. In addition to their mixology contributions, Luxe kept the energy alive by curating the perfect playlist for the afternoon.
Students Eli Alejo, Jones Gutierrez, Gris Sanchez, Jenny Payan, Alexandra Gonzalez, Yearlin Itzep, Millie Ruiz, Merling Velasquez, Melissa Soriano, Jess Muñoz and Stephanie Cortez attended the Mocktail Mixer, accompanied by Art Division Program Coordinator Nicole Beranga and Special Programs Coordinator Luis Motta. Nicole played a crucial role in taste-testing the mocktails and keeping the conversation flowing. Luis arrived fashionably late, greeted with scattered applause. To break the ice, attendees discussed their dream lives, imagining where they would live and what they would do if they didn't have to work. The conversation quickly transitioned to the more serious topic of navigating life as young artists in Los Angeles. Many students expressed their eagerness to find a supportive artistic community, especially now that they were no longer in school.
Colectivé 41, Art Division's student-led artist’s group that centers work made by Black, Brown and Queer artists, took the opportunity to give a presentation about their work and the impact they aim to create. The passion and dedication exhibited by Colectivé 41 members inspired several guests to express interest in joining the collective. The Mocktail Mixer was such a success that Ellie finally had to shut off the lights to get everyone to leave. Several students appeared to be leaving the Art Division library with plans to continue the festivities at an afterparty.
The Mocktail Mixer proved to be a night filled with art, conversation, and connection, and may become a monthly event. The mixer's success is a testament to the ongoing commitment of the Art Division community to foster a supportive and inclusive environment for all those who dream of pursuing a life in the arts.
What’s the career pathway to becoming a graphic designer? Or an interior designer? Or a furniture designer? On Thursday, March 9, twelve Art Division students and staff members learned some answers to these questions and more when we walked three blocks down to visit Commune Design, a Los Angeles-based design studio with a reputation for holistic work across the fields of architecture, interior, graphic and product design.
Our group gathered in Commune’s conference room where, surrounded by images from one of the company’s current projects, we snacked on an exquisite chocolate-nut mixture designed just for Commune. There, the company’s founders, Roman Alonso and Steven Johanknecht, talked about their career pathways, both of which were surprisingly circuitous. Afterwards, several other Commune staff members talked about their career paths and answered student questions.
Students in the Art Division group were encouraged to learn that careers in design are often open to people with diverse professional backgrounds, and not exclusively those with degrees in design. “It was great to hear that real-world experience is really important on a career path,” Art Division student Leslie Martinez said. Art Division student Kristian Guerra, currently completing a degree in Graphic Design at Cal State Los Angeles, agreed. “It was really inspiring and nice to hear from designers and how they ended up where they are, as well as relieving and motivating to see them seek out local creatives from organizations and communities such as Art Division,” he said.
For Preston Alba, the staff member at Commune who coordinated our visit, that community outreach was important to their team. “We thoroughly enjoyed having Art Division visit our studio,” Preston said. “The students are curious and engaged and they have such an incredibly supportive faculty and alumni.”
After the meeting in the conference room, we took a guided tour of Commune’s studio, learning more about their unique, artisanal approach to design, which involves not only planning but actually creating and building furniture, fabric, door handles, dishware and more. Every aspect of a project is made with care, Roman Alonso told us, showing our group a set of plates whose color had been chosen after seven years of deliberation.
Our group was so delighted by the visit that nobody wanted to leave. Even after the tour, we stood outside on the doorstep, chatting excitedly about all that we’d learned. “Seeing their works, meeting their team, and seeing their office was really cool,” Kristian said. “Beyond professionally being interested in their internship opportunity for career development, I also felt welcomed. I would love to see and participate in other trips just like Commune.”
Preston Alba agreed. “Art Division has welcomed us into their community, and we can’t wait to find ways to work together,“ he said.
We are currently in conversation with Commune about creating a paid internship for an Art Division student at their studio.